HC Deb 20 April 1972 vol 835 cc720-2
2. Mr. Judd

asked the Minister of State for Defence how many men, ships and aircraft are now involved in the Beira Patrol.

10. Mr. Biggs-Davison

asked the Minister of State for Defence whether he will make a statement about recent interceptions of ships by the Beira patrol; and what is its present strength of men-of-war and aircraft.

The Under-Secretary of State for Defence for the Royal Navy (Mr. Peter Kirk)

It is not the practice to give details of operational deployments, but the way the Beira patrol operates has varied to meet changing circumstances. The only interception this year was that of the Portuguese Tanker "Sao Mamede" on 17th March.

Mr. Judd

Does the Minister agree that, contrary to the cynicism of some, the Beira patrol has achieved its objective in stopping the flow of oil through the Beira pipeline? Does he not agree that, if the Pearce Commission finds that the proposed settlement on Rhodesia is unacceptable to the majority of people in Rhodesia, we must now give a categorical assurance that we will maintain the patrol, if necessary extend it and bring all possible pressure to bear on Portugal and South Africa to stop by other means sabotage of the sanctions policy?

Mr. Kirk

I agree with the first part of the hon. Gentleman's supplementary question and have frequently said so. On the second part I refer to the hon. Gentleman to the answers given by my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on 27th March.

Mr. Fell

Although I understand that for security reasons the Minister cannot give the actual answer to my question, will he nevertheless promise that if he were able to answer "Nil" he would give us the answer, and will he be able to give that answer in about four or five months' time?

Mr. Kirk

That also is probably a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Common wealth Affairs.

Mr. Fernyhough

Will the right hon. Gentleman assure us that as long as there are nations which are prepared to disregard the United Nations resolution on Rhodesia, the Beira patrol will be maintained to prevent blockade-breaking?

Mr. Kirk

That is certainly a matter for my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs.

12. Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

asked the Minister of State for Defence what arrangements have been made for resiting the Royal Air Force Shackletons which have been operating in support of the Beira patrol following their withdrawal from the Malagasy Republic.

Mr. Kirk

None, Sir. However, I am satisfied that the obligation which was imposed by Security Council Resolution 221 can still be fulfilled.

Mr. Bruce-Gardyne

I am grateful for the first part of my hon. Friend's reply. Is he satisfied that, without this aerial support, the Beira patrol will be able satisfactorily to offer a proper salute to supplies of Rhodesian chrome and other materials, which British companies alone are not allowed to buy, as they pass out of Beira towards United States ports and other destinations throughout the world?

Sir G. Nabarro

A splendid supplementary question!

Mr. Kirk

I am satisfied that the Beira patrol will be able to carry out the task assigned to it, which is to prevent oil entering the Port of Beira.

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